Jayson Tatum has had a great season so far. He is currently the best player on the NBA’s best team and his Boston Celtics are starting to put distance between themselves and other teams vying for the first seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics, by far, have the best point differential in the East with +6.5. Cleveland comes closest in second at +4.6.
His most recent display on the road against the Charlotte Hornets was another reminder of Tatum’s MVP challenge this year. He finished the game with 51 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 15 of 23 from the floor, 7 of 12 from three and 14 of 14 from the charity stripe. This included an 18-point explosion in the fourth quarter that sealed the 130-118 victory.
Tatum was predictably pleased with himself in the post-game interview, sharing that he hadn’t dropped a 50-bomb in a while. His season averages of 30.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.0 steals shows his impact on multiple fronts, but his scoring threat is still one of the most important aspects of his game. He’s failed to hit the 20-point mark only four times in the 42 games he’s played so far this season, with the last of them coming in a loss to the Golden State Warriors in mid-December.
The 24-year-old hasn’t done this all alone, of course. Co-star Jaylen Brown, who missed the Charlotte game, is having a fine season of his own with 27.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Tatum is also surrounded by the NBA’s deepest team, one that can excel on both ends of the floor and play at multiple speeds. The Celtics are showing, so far at least, that the run to the NBA Finals was no fluke last year. After suffering heartbreak at the hands of the Warriors, it certainly looks like both the Celtics and their young stars are locked in and itching for another shot at the Larry O’Brien trophy.
To top off his big night, Tatum also set a new Celtics record, breaking a tie that he held with the legendary Larry Bird.